Florida's job outlook is getting better, but Gov. Rick Scott said the state still has a ways to go.
Scott, a Naples Republican, said Monday his continued focus on the state's job market is just one of his priorities as he approaches his first term's halfway mark.
Scott was in town Monday to visit Ave Maria School of Law and take part in a Daily News editorial board meeting.
It was during the editorial board meeting that Scott said education, jobs and keeping the cost of living low would remain a priority for him in the coming months. While it's too early for him to set official legislative priorities, he anticipated those three issues would top his list come the 2013 legislative session, he said.
"I'd like everything to happen in a day," he said, "but that doesn't happen."
Scott said he thinks his plan to create 700,000 jobs in seven years will be a success. The state, he said, is making strides through improvements to regional workforce boards and is working to make Florida more desirable to businesses.
"I feel comfortable we'll get there," he said.
The state is already seeing employment improvements. The unemployment rate is down to about 9 percent, and Scott said he expects April numbers to show continued improvement.
"We're doing well," Scott said. "We're heading in the right direction, but we still have about 800,000 people out of work."
The state may be heading in the right direction, but Scott told about two dozen Ave Maria School of Law students he understands what they are facing as they enter the workforce.
"It's hard," he said. "You have no idea what you're going to do."
Scott spoke to recent graduates preparing for the Florida bar exam about his time in law school. He said The Paper Chase — a 1973 movie about a first year law student — had him stressed out during his first few months of school. His worries eventually dissipated, but Scott said they came rushing back when the exam came around.
"I was scared to death," he said. "I thought I wasn't going to pass."
Scott passed and went on to spend nine years as a transaction attorney.
Eugene Milhizer, the law school's dean, said he was pleased the governor took time out to visit the school.
"His success as an attorney, in the business world and as an elected official is an example for which any Ave Maria School of Law graduate should aspire," Milhizer said. "He is a good friend and we look forward to seeing him on campus soon."
Scott's visit may be the last time Collier County residents see him this month. While Scott told the Daily News he tries to get home every two weeks, he said his hectic travel schedule means he won't be back for several weeks.
Scott leaves Sunday for a business development mission to Spain.